Avian Einsteins

Friday, June 12, 2009

Leading bird scientists Erich Jarvis and Irene Pepperberg explore how striking parallels between bird and human brains are providing new insights into how we acquire language and links between hearing and movement. Neurobiologist Erich Jarvis leads a Duke University team that studies how songbirds, parrots, and hummingbirds learn and pass along new sounds. Irene Pepperberg is adjunct associate professor at Brandeis University and research associate and lecturer at Harvard, and the author of Alex and Me.

Event: Erich Jarvis and Irene Pepperberg will be taking part in a panel discussion
Avian Einsteins
Saturday, June 13, at 3:30 pm
NYU Skirball Center
566 LaGuardia Place, at Washington Square South
More information and tickets here.
Avian Einsteins is part of the World Science Festival, in New York City June 10-14.


Erich Jarvis and Irene Pepperberg
News, weather, Radiolab, Brian Lehrer and more.
Get the best of WNYC in your inbox, every morning.

Comments [9]

Jeff Putterman from Queens


With all due respect, you are attacking Ms. Pepperburg but know little about her work.

I suggest you read Alex and Me. It is a wonderful book, and you will admire Irene after you finish it.

Jun. 12 2009 01:50 PM
Ro from SoHo

I find it rather disturbing that Alex should have learned to apologise in order to diffuse the ANGER of his TRAINER. (Without remorse, it was noted.) Why should a trainer of any animal fail & resort to anger unless they supposed the animal was doing something inappropriate or disappointing for the purpose of creating the anger response in the trainer?

I assumed all trainers, especially those with scientific orientation would be required to keep the correct perspective and not resort to frustration and anger when the 'experiment' didn't perform as expected.

However, having seen a film of Ms. Pepperberg trying to swat Alex with her hand and he skittering out of range I can fully appreciate how inhumane, unscientific and miserable must his 'training' have been.

Alex was also a feather plucker - a known avian response to insecurity and unhappiness.

Shame on you Ms. Pepperberg!

Jun. 12 2009 01:35 PM

PS I mean we could be very primitive - consider that some birds see miles away -

Jun. 12 2009 01:21 PM
Tim from Manhattan

I also would love hear some discussion on mockingbirds, they seem to have extraordinary memory capacity.

Jun. 12 2009 01:20 PM

Who died and left us in charge of than universe, with full blown assumption that humans are "smarter" than animals! That our language and linear thought patterns do a better job than even kids (remember Naom Chomsky said kids are linguistic geniuses before age 7) - next to birds we could be very primitive!

Jun. 12 2009 01:19 PM
Jeff Putterman from Queens

Sadly, we don't have a single politician in this state, as evinced by the circus in Albany, with a brain nearly as capable as poor Alex.

Jun. 12 2009 01:12 PM
Julian Stark from Manhattan

Can your guests comment on Mockingbirds, which mimic many different songs of other birds, as well as other sounds?

Jun. 12 2009 01:12 PM
hjs from 11211

of course, birds are just smart dinosaurs

Jun. 12 2009 01:04 PM
Johnny S from Cranford, NJ

I've read that migratory birds actually lose and then regrow brain cells in order to make themselves lighter for their trip. Can any other animals do this? Are we learning anything about nerve cell growth from this?

Jun. 12 2009 11:00 AM

Leave a Comment

Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more. Learn more.
Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting. By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use.